A Valentine from Image
Love Poems from the Image Archive
The Piano, Jane Campion (1993)
May it be as it was in our rhapsodies.
Tethered to you,
oneiric assemblage of sea salt
ivory: you playing me
as I imagine the gods have,
cavorting on their mountain of stone.
Forgive me. This our default
condition: each of us versions of the other’s
own making. Call me melancholia. Whatever
you like, love, awash in you—call me
the horizon, a noose’s useless slack line,
call me whatever name
the pacing beast between us goes by.
I open myself for no other. What are we
if not vowels of thirst—
what are we when our hour has come.
in tongues for which we have none.
from Image issue 93
How Long the Long Winter
Awake in the middle of the night, the river
cracked with language, the ice of it
a heave of squares and oblongs.
Only the waterfall, its cold spray
frosting nearby juts of stone with lace,
continued to tumble as if it would
never cease to move and be. Once it was,
we lay down together, two lakes
touching. “I want to do to you
what spring does to the lilac,” I whispered.
Not an idle fancy, or vain—I’m drawn
to what any one moment might make
of its impermanence. That’s all we have.
We know the body dies. We say the spirit
doesn’t—but…I don’t know.
In five billion years the sun will take out
the earth and all life, if there’s still
life left. Billions more, and the expanding
universe will reach its limit and recede,
raveling back into the nothing
from which nothing comes.
“It will be like we were never here,”
you’ve said. Love, joy, the music
our bodies made—once we’ve
vanished, what happens to these,
these streaks of light we’ve released
from within us to blow about like pollen
among the blossoming stars? What happens to
spirit when the material universe
of star birth and sun’s warmth is no more?
How long the silence in which it lies
dormant? How long the long winter of no
river, no meander, no waterfall rainbow
or ocean splendor—before the random
spark ignites and out of what seems impossible
love, once again, comes love?
from Image issue 85
The Traveler to His Wife
It’s true: In pleats of land I find your face,
your tears in the way water traces
gentle blue trails between cities.
When I touch the muscular curve
of a fish drawn fresh from the deep,
shaded center of a river, I learn its name:
Smallest Silver Trout, Left-Handed
Salmon, Bluegill Given over to Air—
and remember you with each syllable.
Think of it: what happens as strong hands
hook us from the womb, as our new and naked
limbs flip shining into air?
Forgive my intimacy with dirt, my temptation
toward borders, toward those few yet-anonymous
swells rimming an island’s far coast.
Please recall when I kiss you, when I am not
there to kiss you: We inhabit our own small
and separate countries, customs and tongues
overlapping. Know that I want to bring you
salt. Sand. Hills wrapped with clouds. A sky
of animals. This travel. Trespass. Devotion.
from Image issue 51